The ACC has a few contenders for the National Championship this season. The teams that could be contenders also have the ability to underperform or to not be consistent. Getting through the conference unscathed will be difficult for any team
Clemson – the Tigers open the season ranked 6th. They open with Georgia and close with South Carolina. In between is a little bit of a bumpy road. The Tigers expectations are high, and coach Dabo Swinney has stated that Clemson has the resources to chase the National Title. The Tigers should win the Division and the Conference.
Florida State – the Seminoles will be starting with a new quarterback, but still has many talented players in place, if anyone is poised to upset the coronation of Clemson it is FSU. One thing is for sure for the ‘Noles, they have to take better care of the ball, as they fumbled 24 times, losing 17. One thing that could hurt FSU is the loss of six coaches to other schools this offseason.
Maryland – the Terrapins are on their way to the Big 10 next season. Last year needed a reset button, especially at QB. Maryland lost 4 QB’s to injury and were forced to start a scout team LB at QB. The offense will be much improved and there will be bright spots for the Terps, but there is just more talented teams in this division for them to contend.
NC State – the Wolfpack has brought aboard former NIU coach Dave Doeren to lead the team. Doeren was 23-4 at NIU. This season will be one of rebuilding and learning Doeren’s system. A bowl game is about the best the the Wolfpack can hope for as there is just not enough talent on the roster to be in the mix.
Wake Forest – the Demon Deacons were beset by injuries last year and they have not really been contenders for 4-5 years. This season is crucial for coach Jim Grobe. This team has talent, if they can stay healthy they will surprise some teams. Fifth in the division seems too low, but there are other more talented teams.
Syracuse – the Orange were set to build on last seasons success, but the architect of that success Doug Marrone is now in the NFL. The Orange is also having to replace its QB and top WR’s. Head Coach Scott Shafer has his work cut out for him.
Boston College – the Eagles do not have much talent, and have liabilities on both sides of the ball. New coach Steve Addazio has a large mountain to climb, most likely the Eagles endure another losing season.
Miami – the Hurricanes are the class of the Coastal Division. They will need to make significant improvements on the defensive side of the ball to be real contenders. The Hurricanes seems to be headed in the right direction, despite the fact that the NCAA has practically been camped on the Miami doorstep for the last few years conducting its investigation.
Virginia Tech – the Hokies had their worst campaign in 20 years last season. Frank Beamer made some wholesale changes and VT should be better for it. They very well could win the Division if they beat Miami the second weekend of November. The defense will keep them in games and could win some outright. An ACC title is not out of the question, despite all of the changes.
Georgia Tech – the Yellow Jackets are one of the most frustrating teams. They lack consistency and follow through. The coaching staff is good, and if new QB Vad Lee has a good year who knows. If the Jackets can beat Miami and VT they will win the division, with that they could very well win the ACC. The have all the ingredients to do so.
North Carolina – the Tar Heels have enough on the offensive side of the ball to contend. They ran nearly 75 plays per game last season and put points up in bunches, the unfortunate thing was that their defense gave up just about as many points as the offense could score. Unless the defense can prevent the games from turning into a track meet, this team will probably be on the outside looking in.
Pittsburgh – the Panthers make their debut in the ACC. One thing going for them is that for the first time in 3 years they do not have to replace the head coach. They have a lot of unanswered questions, but they did take Notre Dame to triple OT last season. The defense will need to carry the day until the offense can get things figured out.
Virginia – the Cavaliers needed help in a lot of areas. At one point last year the Cavaliers lost 6 in a row. There was a lot of turnover in the assistant coaching ranks, and if things do not improve this will most likely be the last year that coach Mike London gets and the helm.
Duke – the Blue Devils will make some noise, its not an automatic to just wait until basketball begins. However as the team has improved, so have its conference opponents. Duke will need to win all of their ‘winnable’ games in order to return to a bowl game.
Atlantic Winner – Clemson
Coastal Winner – Miami
ACC Winner – Clemson over Miami. Clemson wins the conference title.